Erotica is ultimately meant to arouse the reader. In some cases, it’s even mentally and emotionally provocative. Then, there are those writers capable of arousing and provoking, while writing in a literate, even artful, style—and that is precisely the realm in which Emerald operates.
Emerald brings a wealth of experience to her writing. She has worked as a stripper, webcam model, and an amateur porn performer. In college, she studied creative writing at the master’s level. That background yields stories that are well-crafted, full of insight, and, yes, arousing.
Emerald has two books of short stories: If…Then: a collection of erotic romance stories and Safe: a collection of erotic stories. My introduction to Emerald came 14 months ago in the fall of 2014, when I started reading Safe—and there was no turning back.
Dirty Scribe: The story that stands out the most for me is “On the Rise,” found in your collection Safe. It’s about a man who pays an escort to visit his paraplegic friend, being cared for in a nursing home. What really struck me was the humanity and the compassion—two things that I see as common threads in your writing. Is that a fair assessment, and, if so, what inspired you to take that approach?
Emerald: I actually feel quite flattered by that assessment and appreciate it very much. The tiny bit of autobiography in that story is that I did read an article like the one referenced about relatively young people who are cared for in assisted-living homes due to accidents or disability. I specifically remembered reading about a patient who was 26 and had experienced an accident that resulted in paraplegia and how his best friend visited him every day. I felt struck by a quote from the patient about having no privacy in his living environment. This is my projection, of course, but when I read the word “privacy,” sexuality came into my consciousness. I winced imagining how challenging it might feel for a 26-year-old to live in an environment (seemingly) without any access to or support for sexual interaction…including with himself. (All of which is not to discount the challenge in the same context for elderly patients in such environments, which is its own salient topic.) The idea for “On the Rise” in almost its entirety dropped into consciousness in me at that moment.
I found the entire article heart-wrenching, and in answer to your question about taking that approach, I can hardly imagine how else I would have written it. The entire situation called to me in such a heartbreaking way, and I would guess what may seem striking about it is that it does (I hope) recognize both a physically disabled person and a sex worker as human beings, and both of those represent populations who have tended to experience dehumanization in the general culture, as I perceive it. As you well know, the idea of sex workers actually providing a service has sometimes seemed unrecognized in society in general, but I think you also know, as do I, that that perception is incomplete.
Thank you again for your words about that story—it was one I really appreciated the opportunity to write, and I feel profoundly glad it resonated with you.
Dirty Scribe: In your story “No Such Thing”, you wrote, “Sex was life force, embodied; it was strength, it was beauty, it was joy, it was—Healing.” Is that your philosophy of sex? And was it something you had already believed, or did you discover it through your writing?
Emerald: That line is definitely representative of potential I see in sexuality, yes. That story also has a degree of autobiography in that there was a moment for me in which I experienced self-induced orgasm as prayer/the uninhibited expression of surrender and vulnerability in the context of wishing love and all best for all. When I wrote that story, I was already aware of perceiving that, but in a general sense, the transformation of how I viewed and experienced sexuality in me was distinct, striking, and occurred in my mid-twenties. That was also the time I started writing erotica, not coincidentally, and as I contemplated your question, it occurred to me that said transformation may indeed have been informed by writing I began doing on the topic…even in ways I didn’t/haven’t consciously realized.
Dirty Scribe: You don’t simply tell a good story, you write well—very well—and I suspect you’d be successful in a variety of genres. What drew you to erotica?
Emerald: Thank you very much. As I just alluded to, I began writing erotica when I experienced a profound expansion and shift in my own experience of sexuality. Both then and now, the answer remains twofold: 1) I find sexuality a simply compelling subject. I see it as an area with abundant potential for internal exploration, expansion of self-awareness, and growth. 2) Societally speaking, I simultaneously see sexuality as a historically vilified and/or underrated area of personal experience, and that strikes me as profoundly detrimental to our species on both individual and collective levels. I have often felt inspired to focus in sexual contexts artistically, professionally, and personally with the aim of inviting a more sincere appreciation of the potential and beauty of sexuality in our culture and our species.
Dirty Scribe: Do you have a specific type of reader in mind when you write your stories?
Emerald: What an interesting question. On a general level, no, but when I first started writing erotica, I was fresh from a monumental shift in myself from the effects of sexual repression to the recognition of said repression as just that, rather than as something appropriate and/or incontrovertible. I thus remember feeling an aspiration to support people in recognizing and expanding out of/beyond sexual repression and feeling aware that was part of what was inspiring my erotica writing. I still certainly have an interest in that aspiration, so the idea of a reader’s experiencing any such opening, shift, or supportive effect from reading anything I wrote is something by which I would feel profoundly honored and heartened.
Dirty Scribe: How much of your writing is based on personal experiences?
Emerald: It’s tended to depend greatly on the story. Especially at this point, aspects of internal challenge or experience, psychological or spiritual expansion, and/or self-awareness are more likely to be both the focus of a story and where more of my own personal experience or perception is reflected than any actual sexual interaction—though I have sometimes written about that autobiographically too. A lot of times I have used an encounter or interaction of my own as a basis of a story and expounded beyond what I experienced, whether sexually, interpersonally, or psychologically/spiritually. So usually in a story, there is some aspect of something I personally experienced. It’s just a matter of what it is! It could be anything from the setting to the tone of a relationship to an actual sexual interaction to an internal revelation.
Dirty Scribe: Do you read erotica? If so, what are you attracted to?
Emerald: I have been known to, indeed. The answer to the second question has tended to vary. In large part, I appreciate erotica that delves into questions about sexual connection, personal growth, psychological exploration—much like what I’ve aimed to write. On the other hand, just like with reading in other genres for me, sometimes I may just want something relatively superficially entertaining/stimulating. It really does depend on what I’m seeking at the time…and I appreciate that I’ve tended to know where to go to find both!
Dirty Scribe: What can we expect next from you?
Emerald: Since the release of my short story collections If… Then and Safe last year, I’ve been working on a longer-form work. It is, however, far from prepared for public consumption at this point! In the meantime, my novella Doubleheader was released a few months ago as both a standalone e-book and a part of the Athletic Aesthetic anthology from Sweetmeats Press, and I have a short story in Cleis Press’s recently released anthology Best Erotic Romance of the Year. My story “Sunshine” will also be included in The One That Got Away, a forthcoming anthology published by Cleis Press and edited by Kristina Wright, slated for release in early February 2016.
Thank you so much for interviewing me today, Steve! It’s been a pleasure responding to your questions.
Note: You can find Emerald at her website, TheGreenLightDistrict.org.